Google offers a way for users to opt out of having their WiFi routers included in its Location Server, but some believe the method is too complicated for most consumers.
(NASDAQ:GOOG) Nov. 15 made good on its promise to offer a way for users to opt
out of having their wireless access point, or WiFi router, included in its
location database software.
Location Server collects information for location-based services, such as
allowing users to tag posts or check into locations through Google Maps for
Mobile on Android smartphones. The server links publicly broadcast information
about local wireless networks with their approximate geographic location.
claims it doesn't identify people with the WiFi access point info it collects
in its location database, it needs to meet the new terms of the European
Commission. The Commission last May ordered that the unauthorized use of data
from WiFi-enabled devices violated European law that prohibits the commercial
use of private data without an owner's consent.
the company said in September
it would offer a way
for users to opt out of Google's location services. The method is now
navigate to their router's settings and change the wireless network name, known
as the service set identifier (SSID) in geek speak, so that it ends in
"_nomap." So if a user's WiFi network name is Foxtrot, the name would
be revised to "Foxtrot_nomap."-for example.
provided additional instructions, including links with specific details on how
to change a router's SSID, in its help center. The Web page includes links to instructions
making changes in wireless gateways from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Belkin, Linksys,
U.S. Robotics and Netgear.
Why use this
method in particular?
Google's Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer explained in
a blog post
: "As we explored different approaches for
opting-out access points from the Google Location Server, we found that a
method based on wireless network names provides the right balance of simplicity
as well as protection against abuse. Specifically, this approach helps protect
against others opting out your access point without your permission."
words, it's designed to prevent fraudulent opt-outs. Fleischer said other
location service providers use the same nomap string, adding that it hopes the
code will be globally adopted for consistency's sake.
apparently well-intentioned, particularly after Google erred grievously
its Street View WiSpy incident in which it collected over 600 gigabytes of user
data from WiFi networks, some members of the high-tech sector pounced on Google for offering a way they
believe is too complicated for the average home Internet user to figure out.
, long-time TechCrunch
blogger turned venture capitalist for the CrunchFund, wrote on his personal blog: "99%
of the people who will want to do this will have absolutely no idea what any of
the above paragraph means. I mean, this entire post is a joke, right? Please
tell me this is a joke."
owner of Keystone Computer Repair in Florida, told eWEEK via Google+
: "I can tell you that the majority of our customers would have difficulty in completing this task. I can't tell you how many times I've had to bail out (usually, new) customers who went into their routers and fouled up everything."
attempting to make lemonade out of Google's apparent lemon, provided very detailed instructions for consumers
to help them make the opt-out change.